June 22, 1892 – To General Superior Sr. M. Edward, from Monsignor O’Bryan, Rome, Italy

20 Via Sistina, Rome
June 22, 1892
Dear Mother Edward,

I thought my letter April 11 was quite clear. I had seen the Secretary of Propaganda who said the matter was to be discussed. The Prefect was a new hand and knew nothing of the case.

With regard to the Director, Propaganda cannot interfere. The remedy is in your own hands, apply to the Administrator now that the Bishop is dead, he cannot refuse so reasonable a request if put to him forcibly.

When the Bishop died, as I told you in my last of June 7, the case was suspended; after his death no one whosoever had any right to deal with the question. That action of the so-called Commission was irregular and invalid. You did well to resist. You must continue to hold your own until a new Bishop enters the field. He will either let the matter drop or commence anew.

It seems to me you are in a nest of hornets; if it were a question of one or two dissentients you could perhaps deal with them, but have you to fight the majority? If so, I fear they will win. Unfortunately, you are not approved of in Rome. Consequently, you are outside Canon law, and every house falls immediately under the jurisdiction of the local Bishop. This is awkward and if your own Sisters are in rebellion, how can you change them except by disolving.

I do not understand how you retain the discontented members, there must be weakness or an element of feebleness in the rule which tolerates such a gross abuse.

The Secretary of Propaganda told me the Sacred Congregation was anxious to have the matter settled amicably. Perhaps they recognize that the malcontents are a power and wish to give them the rights of belligerents. Any way, after the Bishop’s death, any instructions from Propaganda lost their effect. Boston has nothing to do with the case unless he be appointed to regulate the dispute and then he must do it himself and not by proxy. Your view of Propaganda is a strained one. The Prefect has no personal authority to settle disputes, you cannot appeal to him as to a father. The Congregation is a legal tribunal and your position is a client as in any Court of Justice or a defendant if accused. You can only stand upon your rights – these will always be respected.

In my opinion, you should face the difficulty, clear the ground, expel malcontents and let them set up for themselves. If you cannot do this, you are simply a craft with broken down machinery and must drift on the rocks and break up. Now is your time. No one has any right to stop you, for some months you are free.

Faithfully in Christ,
H. O'Bryen

P.S. Never register a letter. If I were away it would lie in the post and in six weeks be sent back to you. If addressed to my house, it will follow me. From July to Nov. I shall be out of Rome, in these months no business is done.

I may be in Canada this fall; if I am, I will try to call and see you and learn the ins and outs more precisely.


Source: 407-409-A, General Secretary Fonds, Annals of the Congregation/Generalate series, Volume 1861-1892, pp.324-325, Archives, Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul.
Catherine McKinley’s Letters

This letter is part of a large database of correspondence written by and to Catherine McKinley, who is considered one of the founders of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul. As a Sister of Providence she was known by her religious name Mother Mary Edward.

Letters Navigation

⇐ Return to Main Page:
Catherine McKinley Letters